I started to write a summary/recap of the first two episodes of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi last week after they aired on Disney Plus back to back. And it just wasn't working, because 900 words in, I had barely touched the recap portion of the first episode.
Now, we are three episodes into my most-anticipated Star Wars show to date, and it feels like a good time to (briefly) assess where the show is at and how it fits in within the overall saga. As a word of caution, Part III spoilers are below.
Some have characterized this show as Star Wars: Episode 3.5, and it appears to fit that label perfectly. I love everything George Lucas did with Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005), and my love for the character of Obi-Wan made me anticipate this show unlike any other the past 17 years.
Early in the first episode, Obi-Wan tells Bail Organa "I'm not the man I used to be" and we see those words supported by action throughout the first half of the season. From struggling to use the Force (Part II) to getting his rear end handed to him by Darth Vader (Part III), this is not the Obi-Wan we knew from the prequel era. And nor should it be. He is a shell of his former self because of guilt, the atrophy of living the quiet life on Tatooine and his choice to stay out of anyone's notice while watching over Luke Skywalker.
Ewan McGregor handles the role with everything I hoped for from this character in this time. His performance is subtle but powerful, and even though he inhabited the character for nine years, it's hard to find that character at present, due to McGregor's considerable skill in front of the camera.
Leia Organa, played by Vivien Lyra Blair, has been a delightful surprise in the show. She portrays a 10-year-old Leia with just the right mix of sass, smarts and wisdom beyond her years, everything Carrie Fisher poured into the character in 1977. Leia and Obi-Wan spend most of Parts II and III together, forming a dynamic bond that you know is going to last many years into the future for the two main characters. Part III ends with Leia in the most threatening danger yet, confronted alone in a tunnel by Reva, the Third Sister Inquisitor, brilliantly played by Moses Ingram.
We see a very quick shot of a bacta tank-ensconced Darth Vader at the end of Part II. In Part III, director Deborah Chow presents the most evil and terrifying version of Vader we've ever seen. He storms through the dark village on Mapuzo. He kills innocent bystanders for no reason, with barely a wave of his arm. His fighting style is not yet refined for the suit, but vicious, and he embeds Obi-Wan in a fire towards the end of Part III, wanting his old master to experience the exact same kind of pain he did back on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith. James Earl Jones is indeed back providing the voice, while Hayden Christensen is donning the Vader suit once again in the series.
Two key questions linger as we move into the show's second half: How does Reva know Vader is Anakin Skywalker? And how does the Grand Inquisitor survive? The Grand Inquisitor is alive, because we see him in season one of Star Wars: Rebels (2014-18). A key line in his death scene in that show stands out to me: "There are things worse than death." Could we square that circle in one of these final three episodes?
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the risk of projecting my own expectations upon this series. My expectations were honestly sky-high for this series, and I have to say, three episodes in, those expectations have been exceeded to a great degree. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the perfect Jedi who fails with galactic consequences, is the saddest, yet most compelling character to study in one of these shows. Vader acts as the ideal foil, and while they did cross lightsabers in Part III, I don't believe it's the last time they will in this series. This is a Star Wars high point for me, and I feel grateful this story is finally out there for all of us to enjoy, in all its glorious pain.
I live in Michigan and have been an unconditional fan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones for decades. Follow me on twitter @bmonastiere
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